Volume 93, Issue 96

Thursday, March 30, 2000


NEWS

Shinerama still in doubt

Freeze called for fifth year

CAPS recommends police make streets safer with less money

Taste of sugar linked to gene

Evolutionary link becomes loose with DNA study

Alliance needs more than a name change

Caught on campus

Stuff

CAPS recommends police make streets safer with less money



By Mike Murphy
Gazette Staff

Recommendations made Monday might jeopardize the future of a proposed program to make downtown London safer through video surveillance.

The London City Council's Community and Protective Services committee recommended the program – which aimed to beef up downtown security by installing 16 high-tech surveillance cameras – cut its annual operating budget from $350,000 to $200,000.

The committee's views met with criticism from the London Police, who questioned whether the program could be run under a reduced budget.

"The cost to keep it operating on a yearly basis exceeds $200,000 if the cameras are to be monitored 24 hours a day, which was our recommendation," said Tony McGowan, acting deputy Chief of police.

He said the police conducted a feasibility study which looked at similar surveillance programs in Sudbury and the United Kingdom. Based on the findings, he said the department felt the program should only be run in its costlier form.

However, Ward 5 councillor Gary Williams, a CAPS committee member, said he hoped the program could be scaled back to accommodate the budget.

If approved, the program's startup costs would not come from the City, since fund-raising and private donations would defray the costs of the equipment. "The whole thrust of the program is that corporate and private donors would cover the cost of the cameras," Williams said, adding nine of the 16 cameras have already been accounted for. He suggested eight cameras could be maintained and evaluated at a lower cost and on a trial basis.

However, McGowan said using fewer cameras would not save any money. "That suggestion came up but it's not a cost savings, since you need the same amount of staff to monitor eight cameras as sixteen," he said.

Mayor Dianne Haskett said she hoped the opposing parties could reach a compromise. "I'm hoping that there's some middle ground that can be found between the committee and the police services board," she said.

Haskett admitted she doubted whether $200,000 was an adequate figure. "I'm not sure, frankly, that it can be pared back that low," she said. The mayor said she strongly supported the program and believed council would be remiss in aborting it.

"I believe there's a strong commitment in principle to this program and to safety in the downtown, so I think council would be very reluctant to see the program die," she said.


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